6 Ways To Avoid Getting Constipated When You Travel

Wellness experts give their tried and true tips to keep things running smoothly.

January 22, 2018
woman with stomach pain while traveling
siriwat nakha/ Getty

If you get constipated when you travel, you’re not alone. Vacation constipation is real, affecting as many as 40 percent of people. People love their own potties and when put in new environments with new routines, sometimes new time zones, your digestive system can go haywire, causing bloating and a backed up system. No bueno! But it doesn't have to be this way. Here, top wellness experts share their on-the-go tips

1. A shot of apple cider vinegar a day can keep the constipation away

“While travel can make my usual remedies for optimal digestion a little trickier, my favorite tip is taking a shot of apple cider vinegar before meals. Putting one tablespoon in a little bit of water and downing it 15-30 minutes before each meal can really prime the gut for digestion. It helps to stimulate the production of gastric juices, which are essential for breaking down food properly. This aids digestion by cutting down on bloating and abdominal cramping, and optimizing bowel movements. (Here's how to make your own apple cider vinegar.)

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Sometimes it’s also nice to have a harder-hitting digestive aid, especially if you're going to be trying new food during your travels. For this, I always like to recommend a digestive enzyme. A good digestive enzyme contains multiple different enzymes to break down all components of your meal (proteases for protein, lipases for fat, and amylases for carbohydrates). Taking 1-2 capsules both before and after meals can help stop any weird digestive stuff before it even starts. When our gut is healthy we produce a lot of these enzymes on our own, but sometimes we need a little extra help breaking down particularly rich foods or foods our digestive tract isn't used to dealing with.” ~Dr. Jennah Miller, Toronto-based naturopathic doctor

2. Never leave home without ginger tea

“During air travel, drink lots of ginger tea. Bring your own ginger tea bags and ask the flight attendants for hot water. Drink as much ginger tea as you can. Why? Ginger removes stagnancy in the body, keeps you hydrated, boosts your circulation, minimizes swelling in your feet and legs, and keeps things moving in the body (along with these 7 other health benefits). When you arrive, eat lots of fruit and vegetables and eat smaller portions during the first week if you are jet-lagged. Whenever you get a free moment to relax, lie on your back and hug your knees, compressing your belly to keep your intestines awake and moving.” ~Katie Hess, flower alchemist, author of Flowerevelution and founder of Lotus Wei

 

3. Take magnesium and a hot shower

“Magnesium citrate is my favorite powder to have with me when I travel. Before I leave for my vacation, I take a scoop of magnesium citrate. This form of magnesium is easily absorbed by the bloodstream resulting in a quick effect. Magnesium relaxes the central nervous system, aiding in both muscle relaxation and digestion. Bloat be gone! (Here's how to make sure you get enough magnesium in your diet.) Taking a 20-minute hot shower before leaving and immediately once arriving allows our body to reset as well. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are released upon the stimulus of heat. These babies are protectors of our body against stress-inducing events. If you want to kick it up a notch, add some citrus essential oils to boost relaxation and digestion as well.” ~Mona Dan, acupuncturist, herbalist and founder of Vie Healing 

4. Schedule a massage with yourself

“We don’t always have the time or funds for a professional massage on the road, but this self-massage technique releases stress along important acupressure points down the spine and helps move blocked energy that can cause constipation. Put two squash-sized balls in a sock and tie a knot at the end to keep them in place. You need the balls held close together to work properly. Place the balls on either side of the spine and slowly run it down your spine, taking deep breathes along the way. I often use a pillow to support my head and lay on a yoga mat or the floor (a firm surface works best). Another pressure point helpful for constipation is called Large Intestine 4 located between your thumb and first finger. Stimulate with the thumb and pointer finger of your other hand; go in with steady, calm pressure and hold for a few minutes.” ~Susanna Green, NYC-based massage therapist.

 

5. Tame your vata and tame your toilet time

“In Ayurveda, vata is the most powerful dosha because it relates to the regulatory systems of the body, and so when it gets imbalanced, chaos reigns. Behaviors that disrupt normal rhythms increase vata, and then once vata is increased, it’s hard to re-regulate. So the treatment always is to get back to a regular routine as quickly as possible, and when traveling take it easy on your diet. Lots of people eat from boredom while traveling, but its best to eat very little. I’d also recommend Hingvastak churna, a vata-reducing digestive aid that combines hing with spicy herbs like dried ginger, ajamoda and black pepper to increase and enhance your digestive capability. Combine ¼-½ teaspoon powder with water (it smells a little like farts, so gulp it down fast) or just mix it into your food.” ~Todd Caldecott, medical herbalist and Ayurveda practitioner in Vancouver

6. Pack airplane food to boost digestion

“Plane travel can be incredibly dehydrating, which contributes to constipation. I bring my own large, reusable water bottle and ask the flight attendant to refill it every time they pass by with the beverage cart. I also pack a healthy meal for the flight, which I know won't upset my digestive system, keeping bloat-producing foods (i.e. broccoli, kale, beans) to a minimum. The meal is usually rice bowl-style with protein, a grain (here are the 11 healthiest whole grains you should be eating), and roasted vegetables, all seasoned with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then packed in a cheap container I don't mind tossing in the recycle bin at the airport. Along with giving my digestive system a break, these healthy travel tips save me some money, too!” ~Allison Day, integrative nutritionist and cookbook author of Whole Bowls